Unfree on Unsplash?

What now for finding your perfect image?

Janice Gill
2 min readMay 9, 2021


The image above is a composite of original digital painting, a photo of the milky way I took myself and two images provided by NASA via Unsplash of the surface of the moon and an astronaut.

NASA provided a number of amazing pictures for Unsplash available for anyone to download for free. Many photographers joined, providing high quality images without taking any fees.

Many images on Medium are from this source. No recompense is expected or asked for, just acknowledgement of the source and artist.

I have a few of my own photos on there, they have been downloaded thousands times. I’m pleased that they have proved so useful.

Now, Unsplash has been bought by Getty and the landscape has changed. Will Getty use the platform as a marketing tool to advertise paid for images? If so, I want no part of that. Will those NASA images, totally unique as they are, suddenly be available only at a price? I may be downloading the one’s I like before that reality hits!

In my selfish moments, when I wonder where the money for the next bill is coming from, I wish I could get a pound for every download, but that is just one more barrier to creativity for all those artists who have used those images. It’s hard to pay up front when you’re not sure of a return on your investment.

I’ve never got on with Stock Photography Agencies such as Getty. They want pixel perfect, razor sharp images which is not my style. By way of example, this rose is the image third most downloaded from my collection. The softness of focus gives it a romantic air, which is what I was aiming for. It spoke to over 7,000 people who used it.

I will be watching and waiting to hear what happens in the coming weeks and hope that there is a happy outcome for photographers and the artists who appreciate their work.

If you are a regular user of images on Unsplash, how do you see this affecting you? How do other photographers who have been altruistic enough to share their work feel?

Let’s share our thoughts in the comments.

Take care




Janice Gill

Award winning Artist and Photographer still learning and evolving. Blogging the journey.